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Adapt or Parish

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Juicy Fruit®, Doublemint®, Spearment® ring a bell? We’ve all chewed them. Wrigley’s gums are a part of almost everybody’s childhood. And the story of William Wrigley Jr is nothing short of inspiring.

What budding entrepreneur hasn’t been bored at school? Expelled at a tender age, Wrigley Jr went to work in his father’s soap factory. But with a flare for sales, it wasn’t too long before Wrigley Jr went out on his own, starting his own company selling soap. With a stroke of entrepreneurial genius, he did something different to dad and added a bonus freebie of baking powder to every sale. And sales boomed. But once he realised the baking powder was more popular than the soap, he switched to selling baking powder with a different freebie thrown in. You guessed it. A stick of gum with every sale. Very soon he noticed the gum sales out did the baking powder and so he switched track again to producing his own line of gums.

The thing is Wrigley Jr never started out selling gum. But as he saw new opportunities he grabbed them. Through times of economic depression and war, Wrigley continued to adapt and reinvent his products. Taking calculated risks with marketing while his competitors pulled in the belt. And they paid off. Where other company’s sales dropped, Wrigley’s thrived.

Adaptable and tuned in to the wants of his market Wrigley Jr’s success as an entrepreneur means that his gums are still available today. Over 120 years later.

Adapt or perish. And it’s as true in business as it is in other areas of life. Wrigley Jr was a genius at it. Kodak stuffed it. And Australia Post – well time will tell. The thing is as times change, new markets open and old markets close, technology jumps ahead at lightening speed and the traditional ways of doing business become a thing of the past, we must adapt in order to survive. I’ve heard it said it’s like turning a big ship around. First you’ve got to be looking ahead and see the need. Then you’ve got to take action. Then you’ve got to be patient while it all comes together. Sometimes easier said than done.

One thing is for sure. Change happens. And there will always be upturns and downturns.

Will your business survive?

How can you adapt and thrive?

What’s Brewing

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So there was a show on recently about the world’s most expensive food. Coffee at $700 per cup for instance. So rare because it is eaten and pooed out by a critter in the Sumatran jungle as part of the processing. Needless to say a flavour all of its own. Or the Beluga caviar at over $50,000 per tin. So pricey because you have to wait 12 years to get your first eggs. Or then there’s the ice-cream made from melting glaciers in Africa or you might prefer the gold leaf from Dubai at over $1000 per scoop.

 

But of course if you’d prefer a meal in the world’s most expensive restaurant, you are welcome to book a seat at nearly $3000 per person. And you’ll have to fly there.

 

Prices like these show there’s more than enough money to go round. And it’s not just in the food industry. How about the client who rang me yesterday. Bored on a Tuesday afternoon so thought he’d go out shopping and buy a bit of furniture. Came home with a Ferrari all because his ‘old’ Audi needed new tyres.

 

Quite an insight into how the other half live isn’t it.

 

But the thing is there’s a market for it and smart people are positioning themselves to be in the business of selling to the people who can afford to buy. And making a handsome profit in the process. And while some people will sit in judgement of the lavishness of this lifestyle, it pays to remember that the wealthy are sharing their fortune with those ready to receive it every time they make a purchase.

 

It’s an exchange of value.

 

When money’s not an issue, the rich are looking for something else. An experience. A story. And any astute entrepreneur will see the opportunity to fill that gap.

 

Really it’s all about choice. The choices we make that bring money and opportunity our way. Or keep us struggling. And whether our choices are conscious or not, we are all making them, all the time. We can choose to be judgemental about the way other people live. Or we can choose to be in the business that provides goods and services to the rich and famous. It just takes a bit of know how, a good strategy and the confidence and mindset to make it happen.

 

We spent the last week with our business clients doing just that. Developing their entrepreneurial skills as they create profitable solutions to other people’s needs. And it’s exciting times.

 

The world is your oyster. There are some great opportunities out there. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be the one ordering the caviar. After all, that’s how my client got his Ferrari.

 

What are you waiting for?

Spreading the risk

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Have you tried it yet? The Cadbury Chocolate Vegemite combo?

While the jury is still out on whether it actually tastes any good, it’s got me to wondering how many people actually know the real story of how Vegemite got off the ground in the first place.

Because it wasn’t an overnight success.

In fact people hated it.

Almost a century ago, when the war made imports difficult, food entrepreneur Fred Walker saw an opportunity to produce a home grown alternative to Marmite. They called it Vegemite. But it wasn’t popular. A copy cat spread just didn’t seem to impress the public.

Not to be put off, production continued, and to keep things afloat the company diversified into processed cheese by signing on with the US company Kraft (now you know why Kraft appears on the label). This smart move took the pressure of Vegemite to perform. Lucky they did because it wasn’t until another 15 years later that Vegemite actually took off! Some might say a stroke of luck, but perhaps it was sheer bloody-minded persistence that meant Vegemite got added to the WWII soldier’s ration packs once the health benefits of this great Aussie icon were finally established. Not too mention a great advertising campaign.

Sometimes it’s all about the timing. But when you’ve got to survive in the meantime you often need to diversify.

Got some brilliant ideas that aren’t quite coming together yet?

What could you do to keep things afloat?

Simple lessons

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I had my windscreen washed again the other day. And as I stopped at the lights and admired the agility of this humble man dancing between the cars on Northbourne Avenue, I thought of the lessons he is teaching all of us, if only we are open enough to stop and realise.

Each day at the lights washing windscreens for example you might not consider him a business man. But that’s exactly what he is. Talk about committed, he’s out there in almost every type of weather. The freezing cold right through to the stinking hot days that are this city. And he’s probably earning more per hour than most, with very few overheads. Now that’s smart. And simple. Sometimes it pays to keep things simple.

But even more than the simplicity of his business I am struck by the way he mirrors back to us our own version of humanity. Some people are uncomfortable with a man washing windows on one of the busiest corners in the city centre. Even to the extent of hurling abuse and condemnation. And then there are others who see a fellow human being, acknowledging him with a smile as they agree to the wash or not. I know who I’d rather be around.

Isn’t it interesting how the same situation, the same person can cause such different responses? I’ve come to the conclusion that it really all boils down to our beliefs about what’s right and the judgements we attach. It’s simple really. The more tolerant and accepting we are, the happier we are. Because when we live like this, there’s very little to get worked up about really.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others is to learn acceptance. Of other people, of other beliefs, of other situations. So the next time you find yourself in a situation that rattles your cage, just take a moment to find out what the lesson in it is for you.

Are you locked into the habit of easy judgement? After all, does it really matter?

How much better could life be if you responded differently?

 

Who wants to think like a millionaire?

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They’ve got an aggregate wealth of $6.4 trillion. Forbes 500 richest people on the planet and at $76 billion Bill Gates is back on top.

What’s a few bucks between friends?

But when you read their bio’s, you might notice something.

Almost all of them made their fortune through business.

Did I mention there’s a bit of money to be made in beer?

And while some on them did, yes, inherit their millions, most of them are self-made men and women who simply had an idea. And did something about it.

Take Keiichiro Takahara. He made $3.5B out of nappies. Nappies full of **** you throw away! Couldn’t have done that in the days of cloth. Or the Mars duo. They have a combined wealth of $40B out of the humble lolly (and because we’re talking US dollars, AUD$ it’s even higher). Then there’s Mark Zuckerberg. He was probably wearing Takahara’s nappies when he made his $28.5B fortune with an idea about bringing people together. In case you haven’t heard, it’s called facebook.

But when you’re talking that much money, it really doesn’t matter, does it. What’s more important is an understanding that it can be done. And people, young and old, do it ALL the time.

I wonder how many of those businesses started as a great idea around the kitchen table? Or a thought kicked around over a game of pool? Or just something that popped into their head while catching a train? J.K. Rowling knows what I’m talking about. Or as Einstein said, he got his best ideas while shaving.

But what we don’t see on the list is the blood, sweat and tears, the guts and stamina, the determination and drive, the investment that it takes to pull something like this off. Not an overnight success, but sometimes years in the making. Persistence. Passion. Vision. Strategy. Single-mindedness. Wisdom.

And an entrepreneurial mindset.

But they didn’t do it alone. They knew when to ask for help.

Learn what you can.

Buy what you need.

Apply it all diligently.

It’s a winning formula.

What will YOU do with your next great idea?

“Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.” – William J. Cameron

Birds of a Feather

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Every week we get together in the office and brainstorm. Because collectively we come up with the most brilliant ideas to make what we do even better. Better customer service, better delivery, and more fun doing it. What more could we ask for? And it helps that we’re all aligned with the same values. That’s paramount isn’t it. That you’re in business with people who hold the same values you do. No point in trying to run a business when you’re all pulling in different directions. Can you imagine a rowing team doing that? You’d just go round in circles.

And the reason the team meetings work so well is because we get to bounce ideas off each other. So not only do we have an awesome team, we are aligned and pulling the same way. And the creative energy is magnified.

And it’s for this very same reason that Mary and I prioritise a significant amount of time each year with friends who also run successful businesses. Millionaires in their own right with a wealth of knowledge to share. And the time we spend together is so incredibly valuable. Because not only do we have fun together, we bounce off each other and brilliant ideas flow. Brilliant ideas that generate and support all of our businesses. And we’ve come to realize that while it looks like a holiday, it’s actually one of our most productive times. Working on the business, not in the business. Because in making the time to relax together with like-minded people, the creative spark continues to burn bright and great ideas take form.

Over the years I’ve discovered that one of the biggest mistakes people can make in business is to think they have to go it alone. Because even if you’re a sole trader, you can still choose to spend time with others in business who inspire you. With others who understand the importance of mindset. With others who know how to think laterally and creatively. With others who can see new ways to do things bigger and better. With others who have set their sights on big ideas and are taking action to make them happen.

It’s a choice isn’t it.

Birds of a feather flock together.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Who could you invite into your inner circle?